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Forensic technicians of the Mexican Navy are seen at a clandestine drug processing laboratory, where they seized 50 tons of methamphetamine discovered during an operation, in the town of Alcoyonqui, on the outskirts of Culiacan, Mexico, in this handout photo released to Reuters by Mexico's Navy on August 17, 2018. SEMAR Mexico's Navy/Handout via REUTERS

(reuters_tickers)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican marines on Friday said they had discovered an underground drug lab in the mountains outside the capital of Sinaloa state where they destroyed 50 tons of methamphetamine.

Marines found the lab after intelligence reports indicated that tons of drugs were being produced in the area of Alcoyonqui municipality, about 12 miles (19 km) outside the state capital of Culiacan, the ministry of the navy said in a statement.

In photos provided by the ministry, two marines in hazmat suits can be seen examining dozens of plastic containers in a mountain forest.

The statement said the drugs were hidden underground in two areas along with barrels of the chemicals used to produce meth. The drugs were incinerated on site due to the difficult access to the remote location, the ministry said.

Mexico is a major supplier of methamphetamine to the United States and it the top source of heroin, which is fuelling a surge in opioid addiction. The country is also the principal highway for cocaine trafficked north.

Sinaloa is the seat of the powerful cartel formerly run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who is facing trial in the United States later this year.

(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Reuters